Too Thrifty Chicks

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Too Thrifty Cooks: Lookout for the Cookout

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There is very little that we love more than getting together with friends to eat, drink and make merry. But let’s face it, we all have lives and nailing down the schedules of a handful of our favorite friends is a beast! Lucky for us, everyone (including the thrifty chicks) was in town post Fourth of July, which weirdly fell on a Thursday this year.

We wanted to invite our friends for a casual cookout that included good eats and drinks, but what do you do when a friend is allergic to strawberries, another does not eat mushrooms, some friends are strict vegetarians, some are eating “clean” and the rest are flexitarians like the two of us?

You ask people what they want to eat, what they are willing to eat, you cook it and keep it moving! We bought the most adorable, tiny grill, some charcoal and prepped to get it in! To keep this thrifty gathering cost-effective we asked our friends ahead of the event to chip in $10. This way they didn’t have to cook a dish, or rush to the store last-minute to pick up something that everyone could eat.

If you’re sweating how to afford feeding everyone for a gathering, consider just asking everyone to chip in toward the cost, or do what you can to cover the food and ask your guests to contribute wine, spirits or some other extra thing. Most times your friends won’t come empty-handed and will want to contribute something so you might as well ask for something you need.

20130706_202444Our friend Kim makes the bomb sangria. WE MEAN THE BOMB! Instead of chipping in money we asked that she bring that. So she brought both a red and white wine sangria. We blended up our own summer fruit drinks including an adult beverage and…let’s just say a good time was had by all.

Check out our menu, which was a serious hit with our friends!

Lookout for the Cookout Delicacies

Seasoned wild-caught salmon skewers: These are previously frozen salmon filets that we cut into bite sized pieces seasoned with salt, pepper and a lemon herb blend to taste. You can certainly use fresh salmon if you can catch it on sale. We put about three pieces of salmon on each regular size skewer (four if the pieces were smaller). Let the seasoning marinate at least 30 minutes to an hour. Cook until to fish is firm and flaky.

Tandoori wild-caught salmon skewers: Same frozen salmon filets. Mix about half a packet of tandoori 20130706_202236seasoning that you can probably find in your local international market with a small container of greek yogurt. Coat the salmon in the sauce and let it marinate until you’re ready to cook. Bake until fish is firm and flaky.

Wild-caught shrimp and homemade pesto skewers: We used previously frozen shrimp of a good size to get about three shrimp to a skewer. Feel free to use fresh shrimp if you can catch it on sale. You can use store-bought pesto, but we make our own using basil, walnuts, grated parmesan cheese and olive oil. Coat the shrimp and let them marinate  for about 30 minutes to an hour. Grill until shrimp is firm and pink.

Wild-caught shrimp and barbecue sauce skewers: Same shrimp. We used a zesty store-bought barbecue sauce from Trader Joe’s and added some teriyaki stir fry sauce . We also let these marinate. Bake or grill until shrimp is firm and pink.

Baked sweet potatoes: Slice them in thin rounds and fold them in packets of foil. Add some cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar if you’d like. Roast in the oven until tender. The steam inside the packet will cook the potatoes.

Fresh “Creole” corn: Take fresh sweet corn ears and cut them in half. Put a pat of butter, the amount is up to you, for each half ear in a packet of foil with as much corn as you can hold without spilling. Add creole seasoning such as Tony’s or Zatarain’s, a generous amount of garlic powder. Wrap them in foil and roast in the oven until tender.

Farm fresh squash and zucchini: Toss with olive oil, grill in a grill pan on the stove, outside if you have the space (we didn’t), or roast in the oven.

20130706_183719Reese’s baked mac ‘n cheese: You’ll need pasta and at least two kinds of shredded cheese. Use whatever kinds you like, just not pre-shredded. We used monterrey, pepper jack and gouda. You’ll need about 1/4 cup of milk  and seasonings such as garlic, onion powder, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste. You’,ll also need butter. Cook the noodles until Al dente, stir in about half the cheese and butter. Add enough milk to make it creamy but not watery. When the cheese has melted, transfer to a baking dish. Add the leftover half of cheese and stir until it is well mixed. Top with another 1/4 cup of shredded cheese and breadcrumbs if you’d like. Bake until brown.

We broke out our folding chairs, blankets and the Too Thrifty Chicks Photo Shoot playlist on Spotify and hung out in the park until long after dark! Good Friends + Good Food = Good Memories! This whole shindig was put together for less than $100 and a good time was had by all. To us, that is the hallmark of a successful, thrifty gathering!

Until next time,

— R&R


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Too Thrifty Cooks: A thrifty cooking series

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As you all know the Too Thrifty Chicks cook almost everything as part of Operation Do Better. I’m qualifying that “everything” with “almost” because the summer months have us all off kilter. The weather is warmer and we’re often away from home and under prepared to NOT eat out. Sad but true.

We’re trying to pull ourselves back from the eating-out brink by cooking for the week on Sunday because really it’s too hot to fire up the stove more than once or twice during the week. So we’re starting this cooking series to force ourselves to plan what we’re going to eat each week and to hold ourselves accountable for one of the most important things we do — EAT!

The goal is to cook enough food to last through at least three or four meals that we are willing to eat multiple times during the course of the week.

To kick off the first week we’re focusing on a few staple recipes that are not only tasty enough to eat multiple times.

On the menu and our plates this week:

Fish  and Shrimp Tacos: This is a favorite at the thrifty palace. Saute  your fave white fish and shrimp with some creole seasoning until fish flakes and shrimp has that pink/orange hue. I take a package of broccoli slaw (we added some fresh fennel and cilantro) and dress it with whatever concoction I come up with because I never make the dressing the same twice. This last time it was honey, rice wine vinegar, Dijon mustard and some left over Asian dressing from the fridge that likely had ginger and soy sauce in it. Trust me. It works.

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Vegetarian Tamales: We posted this recipe here before, but we found the masa to be tasty, but a little bit bland for our tastebuds. I found this amazing recipe posted by Natalie over at Tasty Kitchen Blog, and decided to pump it up in a few ways. One, I added cumin, chili and garlic powder until I could smell it wafting from the masa. We like things spicy, so if you don’t, you might want to stick to the recipe. Two, I chopped up some frozen corn kernels and added it to the mix. We had corn in our masa last time and really liked it. Three, I added some pepper jack cheese to the mixture too. We really like cheese. Four, I chopped up a bunch of greens we had on hand and actually added that to the masa too. We have a lot of greens from the CSA where we get fresh veggies and needed to use them before they go bad. And five, we used the veggies we had on hand for our filling, which included a lot more greens and jalapenos.

Crock pot Black Beans: We eat so many black beans that we now buy them dry and cook them in our crock pot. We quick boil them and then toss them in the crock pot with a little salt, cumin, garlic and chili powder.

Classic Israeli Salad: This is a new one on us. We love tabbouleh, but when I saw this recipe in my inbox from Vegetarian Times I knew it was right up our alley. We already had the ingredients on hand because we intended to make tabbouleh, but the bulgur wheat we purchased this time came out looking scary, and neither of us wanted to touch the stuff when it was ready.

So that’s what’s on tap for the rest of this week. If we need a quick meal like we did Monday, black beans plus rice is quick enough and if we run out of that there’s always pasta or homemade pizza. What are you eating this week? Got recipe’s we should try? Let us know down in the comments section and maybe we’ll give it a whirl. Better yet, we take dinner invites too. 🙂

Until next time…

— R&R


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A Short Truth About Shorts

We might be nine days away from the official start, but it certainly is beginning to feel a lot like summer. That means we’re traipsing around town wearing far less than we did even three weeks ago. Seriously, the weather has been crazy around these parts.

The last time we took advantage of a half-off sale at one of our favorite thrift stores, B-Thrifty, we were on the hunt for spring and summer clothes. We both found an abundance of long shorts and skirts that we plan to re-purpose into shorts so look out for some DIY, recreations coming to the blog soon.

Reese can sew, and this summer I’m going to finally learn. My first project were these really funky looking printed shorts. They were super long and so baggy that they looked like a skirt on me. You’ll have to take my word on what they looked like. I got to cutting them up and I was so intent on changing them that I forgot to take a picture of what they looked like before. Forgive me? Thanks.

I raised the length from the knee to about mid thigh (yes my legs are really long), and presto, here’s the look. I topped off the ensemble with this great thrifted t-shirt and wore it on the same day, unbeknownst to me, that the legendary, revolutionary Nelson Mandela, 94, entered the hospital.

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Reese also was strongly considering cropping her shorts, but realized she loved the high-waisted shorts at their existing length. So she just topped her ensemble off with this colorful and inexpensive tank she picked up at Walmart and finished the look with what else, her Chuck Taylor’s.

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We hope you’re staying cool in this heat, saving money and asserting your style by finding some pre-owned clothes to love!

And if you feel so inclined say a special prayer, word of thanksgiving, or offer up a sun salutation for Mr. Mandela. The Too Thrifty Chicks are certainly praying for you Madiba and sending light, love and positivity into the universe on your behalf. Whatever the universe decides we pray that it will be well with your soul. And if we don’t get the chance to tell you, thank you for your service.

— R&R


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Man of the Moment: William “Beaver” Brooks

One Sunday, we’re greeting folks at church, and William aka Beaver comes up to us and says, “I’ve been meaning to tell y’all, I love y’all’s style….and then we say (almost in unison), “We love yours too! We want you on our blog!”IMG_5044

That was a few months ago, and we finally got around to doing a photoshoot with Beaver and learning more about his style. He has a passion for thrifting and finding unique pieces. He’s a bigger guy and says that guys like him are often left out of the picture in this new thrifting trend. When he’s not singing in the church choir, or working his full-time gig, Beaver dedicates his time to helping other men develop their own unique style profiles. According to him, he’s dedicated to “keeping the big guy fly!”

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…Oh, did we mention he’s an entrepreneur too? His business, Bebow Fashions, focuses on designing handmade bowties and lapel pins. They are sooo dope and can be made to order. He believes in providing good quality because he doesn’t sell anything he wouldn’t wear himself, so he is often sporting his products whenever we see him. We’re waiting on our own custom designs (::hint hint Beave::).

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If you like Beaver’s style, check him out on Instagram: the_awesome_life_of_a_beaver and Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/BebowFashions.

BTW, what’s a Too Thrifty photoshoot without a little silliness? Check out some of the outtakes below. Between Reese’s silly jokes (Knock knock. Who’s there? Interrupting cow…interrupting cow wh…MOOOOO!) and Ricks’ ability to strike any pose on cue, we had a grand ol’ time. — R&R

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Tidbit Tuesday: Turning Tables

Not Right side up Table

So when is a random coffee table from Ikea and Kmart, more than just a table? When you turn it into art.

Exhibit A: Black rectangular tables.

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Randomly enough, we had these nearly identical coffee tables when we moved in together. Reese was considering sending hers to the trash heap because, seriously, why would we need two tables? But in the spirit of our efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle, we decided to keep both tables and try to do something with them.

Now, often times when either one of us says this, stuff just gets dusty in a corner. Time flies when you’re having fun, right? We considered painting them, but we were pretty sick of painting from our previous thrifty DIY furniture projects. Plus, the weather had turned cold and drying time would be forever. But luckily the Ikea catalog had a ready solution: cover it with fabric. Duh.

Exhibit B: The fabric

This fabric should look familiar. It’s the same one  Ricks used on her headboard. Because it was 99 cents a freaking yard, she couldn’t resist (way before her pre-Operation Do Better days) buying the fabric in the off white color and the black. She bought four yards of each, so clearly we still have enough for lots of projects. Pillows anyone?

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All you need is some kind of all purpose adhesive and/or a staple gun, which cost about $10. We used a spray adhesive and a staple gun since we had both. Because of the table shapes it’s easy to get crisp corners and wrap the fabric around the table like a Christmas present.

The legs of the tables screw in to the bottom and we left them bare for contrast. Reese’s table had a wobbly leg so we ultimately ditched all of her legs — saving them for another upcoming project of course — and added the table top to our television stand.

About 30 to 45 minutes of work and less than $20 netted us two cool tables that bring color and pattern into our space without paint.  A quick DIY is a done DIY. Git ‘er done.

— R&R20121205_215504

 


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Tidbit Tuesday:Thrift Inspiration and Sewing with Kametra

Guest Contributor: Kametra Matthews

When I was a little girl, I would go thrift shopping with my grandma every Saturday morning.  We would get the “Thrifty Nickle” (free weekly paper with classifieds) and search for which “garage sales” (what we called them down south) before heading out on Saturday mornings.  Sometimes during our trips we would see posters on utility poles with posters pointing to sales and we would just follow directions. My grandma would give me 5 bucks to buy what I wanted.  This is how I was introduced to thrift shopping.

KMM OutfitI still love, love, love thrift stores and yard sales.  I must admit, though, I have become a bit of a bougie thrifter.    When I worked in a lab for 10 years, common dress was jeans, t-shirt, sneakers, and a white lab coat. Now that I have to dress more professionally, I rely on Unique Thrift Store in Falls Church, VA.  I always walk out of this store with great labels such as Anne Taylor, Nine West and Kenneth Cole. Shopping here works out perfectly, because buying professional clothes for work is very expensive. I am able to buy shoes, clothes, and accessories, such as handbags, belts, and scarves without breaking the bank.  I’ve also bought pots, paintings, small appliances, and KMM Appliancesfurniture.  I’m a platinum member which means that on Mondays and Thursdays I get 25% off and Holidays 50%off.

Right Sized

Thrift store shopping has inspired me to learn how to sew. Many of the slacks I buy are often too long and the jeans need to be taken in at the waist.  When my seamstress broke her foot and was out for 2 months, I said, “I need to learn how to sew!”  My mother and fiancé (boyfriend at the time), took me seriously and gifted me a sewing KMM Curtainsmachine and gadgets. I took my 1st course in December and am currently doing a free online tutorial at www.mimigstyle.com. Once I get the hang of it I think I’ll love it, but its like going back to school.  I am amazed at how many people sew.  I had no idea before I was interested.  There is a huge support system for people who sew and there are often free and inexpensive classes where they can learn or improve their skills.

Thrifty Nuptials

Last month, I got engaged! Planning a wedding on a small budget in the DC metro area is going to call on all of the thrifting expertise I have been acquiring since my $5 garage sale trips with my grandmother.  From waiting until the dress goes on sale, finding locations that are big enough and that will  allow my personal caterer to bring in food, to bargaining for services and finding décor for resale, I’ll have to arrange it all.  Being economical takes work in every sense of the word and I’m excited to do the work.


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Tidbit Tuesday: Spa Day at the Thrifty Palace

With Operation Do Better in full effect, paying for professional manicures and pedicures is a luxury that is absolutely off limits until our break from spending is O-V-E-R!

Since that doesn’t appear to be happening anytime soon, we decided (and our crusty feet demanded) to take matters into our own hands. But what started out as just an opportunity to bust the dust became a full fledged spa night with face masks, lip treatments, pedicures and cocktails.

This is a great alternative for getting your girls together and having a fun evening in. Our friend Tasha is on the Operation Do Better train and it just so happens that it was her birthday. Under circumstances like this we’d be having mani/pedis out, possibly cocktails and dinner, but since spending money is out, we did this instead and it was a blast.

IMG_2444First up, avocado face masks! We had some avocados that were getting a little closer to the garbage disposal, so rather than waste them we decided to turn them into face masks. We got the recipe for an avocado honey mask from Pure Skin: Organic Beauty Basics by Barbara Close.

We hated the smell so we added a few things like almond milk, banana and vanilla extract. We ended up with this disgusting looking goo that smelled a lot like cake batter when it was all said and done.

It was a little stingy and we’re still not sure if it really did anything but clearly we had a good time mixing it up in the kitchen and getting in there and getting all messy.

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Reese mixing up the avocado mix.

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Don’t eat the avocado pit. Just. Don’t. Consider yourself warned.

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Ahh…this…is…COLD. Brr!

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Tasha says, “I don’t know about this.”

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Reese slathering it on.

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The aftermath!

After beating back the winter blahs and restoring our youthful glow, we tackled the body part that needed the most work: these feet!

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Getting ready to go in on the tootsies!

Clearly it would have been nice to have some little tubs, but big pots and plastic ware work just fine. And yes I confess, all the nail polish you see in this picture belongs to me and it is why I am not allowed to buy anymore for a very, very long time.

slather slather

slather slather

In addition to the polish, we broke out pumice stones, nippers and clippers as well as two kinds of body wash and some Johnson and Johnson’s baby oil. We were very serious about our endeavors and we now have the smooth feet to prove it. We also put the leftover avocado goo to good use and re-purposed it as masks for our feet. I think the goo worked better on our feet than it did on our faces.

Best thing about at home spa? Jack and coke

Best thing about at home spa? Jack and coke

shhhhh!!! Ricks is relaxing!

shhhhh!!! Ricks is relaxing!

Ta da!! Here are the finished products. We’re almost as good as the nail techs in the salon….almost.

finished products!

finished products!

This was a great and needed excuse to get together with a friend. The next time you want to get together for a girls’ night in, think about turning your living room into a spa zone on the cheap. You’ll create great memories and your feet will thank you later.

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Best spa night ever!

Until next time…keep it thrifty.

— R&R